CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A multi-agency operation resulted in the recovery of 45 children, with 14 children found by the U.S. Marshals Service in the Southern District of West Virginia (SDWV) scattered in West Virginia and Ohio.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service Southern District of West Virginia officers, “Operation Autumn Hope” was a multi-agency enforcement operation focused on human trafficking and the location and recovery of missing and exploited children.
U. S. Marshal Michael Baylous says of the 13 missing children recovered by the CUFFED Task Force:
- Three children were missing from San Bernardino, California, taken in a parental dispute and were recovered in Beckley, West Virginia.
- Three children were missing from Columbus, Ohio, were recovered in Jackson County, West Virginia.
- One child was missing from within the SDWV was located in Princeton, West Virginia. The USMS says they had this case less than six hours before locating the missing child.
- Two children missing from within the SDWV were located in Dunbar and Putnam County, West Virginia.
- Three children missing from Lawrence County, Ohio were recovered in Lawrence County, Ohio.
- One child missing from Richmond, Virginia was found in Princeton, West Virginia.
Every day a child remains missing, the likelihood of them becoming harmed or victimized greatly increases. The USMS makes finding these children a priority. As a result over the past 5 years the USMS has a 75% success rate in finding missing children.Michael Baylous, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia
The CUFFED task force is made of several West Virginia law enforcement organizations, including the West Virginia Department of Corrections, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Roane County Sheriff’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, the Princeton Police Department, the Ravenswood Police Department, along with the Ironton Ohio Police Department from Ohio. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also supported the operation.